When Congressmen Attack – UPDATED With Full Video
Mike Flynn at Big Government is out with a guerrilla video of one constituents discussion, if you can call it that, with North Carolina Congressman Bod Ethridge:
Maybe it is my Catholic upbringing, but I’ve always been cursed with a bit too much empathy. It is often difficult to witness people bearing the full weight of the consequences of their decisions, even when it is richly deserved. (And, in the case of House Democrats few have ever been more deserving of reaping everything they’ve sown.) We’re human, after all, and witnessing people on the cusp of realizing that they’ve lost everything can be difficult.
Last week, Democrat Congressman Bod Etheridge (D-NC2) attended a fundraiser headlined by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He was asked by some students on the street whether he supported the “Obama Agenda.” He didn’t take it well.
Here’s the video:
Let’s recap what we saw on this video. A sitting Congressman–a presumed living extension of James Madison and other founding fathers–was asked on a public street whether he supported the President’s agenda. His response was to hit away a video camera and assault a student. The age of Pericles this ain’t.
Well, yes and no.
First of all, it’s quite apparent that the video has been edited so we don’t necessarily know what happened between the time that the two first met and when the scuffle happened.
Second, sticking a camera in somebody’s face and demanding they answer a question is hardly a form of reasonable political debate, and perhaps not the best way for a constituent to interact with his or her Congressman. It’s no more a form of debate than the Town Hall protesters who showed up for no purpose other than to yell down those they disagreed with last summer.
It does appear that Ethridge may have over-reacted, but this was clearly an ambush interview and not some citizen on the street.
It is going to be a long, hot summer. But, you’ve been given a target. Act accordingly
Expect to see more “amateur” videos like this one.
Update: Stephen Gutowski posts the full, unedited video from both cameras that were used to film this:
After watching this, Etheridge’s behavior surely does not appear to be at all justifiable even though it’s clear that these two students were engaging in what is often called “ambush journalism.” It’s a tactic that has been used by both sides of the political aisle, and one would think that Congressman and Senators would know how to react in such situations at this point. Etheridge’s conduct is inexcusable.
Update 2: Since there appears to be some confusion in the comments, let me summarize my opinion about this whole mess.
Yes, Etheridge’s conduct was inexcusable. Legally, it probably does constitute assault, at least in the civil context. At the same time, I don’t really find anything admirable about the ambush journalism that people like these two self-proclaimed students engaged in. It’s a tactic that has been used by both left wing sites like Think Progress and right wing sites, like Andrew Brietbart’s Big Journalism/Big Government. It’s intention is to provoke a politician to do something embarrassing, and it’s juvenile.